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Fortress Mountain ascent from Catacombs Meadows
Timestamp Free: 2020.02.24 - 18:50:42
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Park Ranges
  (3 days)     Elevation Gain: 2000m
Participants: Steven S, Ben N, Eric C, Liam H, Vern D
Difficulty: 3: Steep, loose terrain up the first pass from Catacombs, steep and loose gully on Fortress. If dry it's a relatively moderate scramble only. Bushwhacking hell on exit to Fortress Lake.
An ascent of Fortress Mountain via a unique "two pass approach" from a bivy beneath Catacombs after a possible 2nd ascent of that peak.
After a successful summit bid on Catacombs Mountain, we woke up on Saturday morning full of energy to tackle our next objective - crossing two unknown passes before attempting the summit Fortress Mountain via a steep access gully on its southwest aspect. See trip Possible Second Ascent of Catacombs.

[photo]catacombstriproute.jpg[caption]Blue line is our approach and ascent of Catacombs, orange line is the traverse from the Catacombs bivy to the summit of Fortress and yellow line is our exit.[/photo]

The first order of the day, after packing up camp, was heading over a steep pass to the valley just northwest of Catacombs. This pass had no beta that we could find, so we were taking a huge chance that it would go. If it didn't work out we'd have to descend all the way to the Chaba River before attempting a bushwhack back up under Fortress Mountain's SW face - a prospect we weren't looking forward to at all. The slopes to the col looked intimidating from our camp, but as usual in the Rockies, you have to get your nose in things before you really know if it'll go or not.

As we poked our noses in the gully, we found out pretty quickly that we should expect tons of rock fall (literally, tons) and very steep, hard dirt slopes. I choose the left hand lower gully while the other 4 guys choose the right hand side. I struggled up some extremely precarious boulders before topping out well above the other guys who had even looser, steeper and less appealing terrain to navigate than I did. I could hear the rock fall and see clouds of dust coming up from under the rest of our team as they climbed even though I couldn't see them! Eventually they made it to my position - dusty but safe. [photo]fortress0021.jpg[caption]Looking ahead to the pass - we took the...

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